It started with newspapers.

The concept of “job boards” didn’t start from websites such as Monster.com and Indeed in western markets, or Jobberman and Brightermonday in Africa, but with newspapers.

Until the late 1990’s, the only way to hire people that aren’t your immediate relative was to publish an announcement in the local newspaper’s “job board.”

All that changed after Monster.com launched in 1999. Recruiters now have access to a blinding array of online platforms to connect with talent. As brands find, attract, nurture talent, different technology suites (such as the applicant tracking system) integrate into the process to ease the HR’s workload.

With everything going on, is there a place for the good old newspaper in the recruitment strategy?

“It’s an easy ’no’, you might say.

You would be wrong.

A public sector recruiter once said this in defense of newspaper jobs posts, for instance:

“We never put up our job postings on any online portals. We cannot gauge the seriousness of the applicant through these online portals as we have to contact these applicants after they have applied. Often these applications appear quite random and completely irrelevant. It only lengthens the process for us and increases the workload for public sector recruiters.”

It makes sense and is one of the strongest argument for newspapers job ads.

Because of the ease of application for most jobs posted online, recruiters may experience a deluge of resumes they have to sort through. Posting the jobs on the newspaper might actually pre-qualify the audience; limit the application to a certain category of individuals who read newspapers. Reading newspapers signals that the individual has certain sentiments and is of a certain age. Newspaper readers are generally of the older demography and perhaps a little more level headed.

For a company that wants to filter the quantity and quality of applicants to executive positions, newspaper job ads sound like a good consideration. But is it really?

The immediate downside is that newspaper recruiting immediately limits the talent pool. And artificially so. But there are more downsides.

Expense, targeting, and return on investment.

For a start, newspaper ads are sorely expensive. Across most African countries, it costs north of $5000 to run one full page ad. To avoid spending the bulk of your recruiting budget on a platform that is harmful to the environment and has witnessed dipping circulation since 2010 is an astute business choice.

For a start, newspaper ads are sorely expensive. Across most African countries, it costs north of $5000 to run one full page ad.

Second is targeting and flexibility. Although newspaper presents a self-selecting cast of applications, it’s hard to be specific about who sees your job posting. You can’t target specific demographics. While that is a similar problem for job boards, recruitment solutions providers use a deep understanding of the recruitment landscape and industries to reach out to only the most suitable candidates for brands. More so, as business / manning needs evolve, the recruitment solutions provider can be re-briefed to realign the search with business objectives. These targeting and flexibility functionalities are impossible to achieve with newspaper.

As a bonus, it’s instructive to know to know tracking impression and engagement of newspaper job ads is impossible. All that your company has to go on is the distribution stats that the publisher shares. The player and referee become essentially the same person.

As business / manning needs evolve, the recruitment solutions provider can be re-briefed to realign the search with business objectives.

Does newspaper have a place in your recruitment strategy in 2017? The answer is not a simple “no,” but considering its expense and lack of flexibility, the newspaper budget is more strategically rewarding when diverted into a mix of recruitment and online job advertisements that match their weight in ROI.

Newspapers are expensive, job ads send a deluge of unqualified candidates, to recruit without complicated go-rounds is to work with a recruiting firm that knows the lay of the land and can navigate it skillfully. Find that firm.

The power to pinpoint talents, explore leadership options, increase employee engagement and increase your organization’s earnings reside in HR Data analytics. Know your human resource and know how to make the best of them. We can help. Call or drop us an email.